I don’t want to be a dream squasher

This is the hard part of my job. I have to, very often, tell people what they don't want to hear. Well, I don't absolutely have to but I feel like I have to. And I personally have to because I think it's important to be honest with people. So I really have to.

It seems that a lot of people were thinking about making career changes over the weekend. Weird how it happens...I got 3 e-mails over the weekend seeking advice on making a move...into marketing at Microsoft from another type of role in another company. As much as I want to encourage people and say "go! go! go!" and "you can do it!", I also don't want to lead people on. I end up telling them that very few people make drastic career changes into marketing at Microsoft because the roles we focus on hiring for require several years previous marketing experience (advice: make the change at your current employer to get some experience...or consider a role at Microsoft similar to your current role and then think about how to transition into marketing down the road). Or that to work in XBox, you have to have a ton of gaming all over your resume (seems people really want to work in XBox). Or that we hire for "entry-level" roles via campus recruiting.

So this morning, I feel like I rained all over a bunch of peoples' enthusiasm. I know there are many recruiters out there that would say "we'll call you if we have something" or they don't respond at all. Is there a chance the person could be considered? Yes, but it sometimes is very slim and I would rather tell people up front and/or explain what other options I could have available (considering other types of roles, other groups). I just think back to time when I felt like someone was humoring me. That's probably the most insulting thing someone can do and I refuse to do it to anyone. So unfortunately, I have to sometimes feel like I just ruined someone's day. I think I may have done that today.

On the flip side, the more flexible people are in the type of work that they want to do and/or the more open they are to doing work that is in line with their prior experience, the more likely that we will be able to find a match. We've done a lot of work to match marketing and finance people and I hear feedback often when someone that has contacted me ends up having a great conversation with a recruiter or gets hired (yay!). But it's still hard when I have to tell people something that could be discouraging.

Comments (6)

  1. Heather Leigh, a Microsoft Marketing Division recruiter, hits it home with this post (along with…

  2. Mark Arteaga says:

    Personally, I would rather get an honest opinion than someone painting a "rosey picture" saying "go for it". Hopefully the three people didn’t take offense and use your thoughts contructively. In the end it’s great to make a career move but the bills still have to be paid! 🙂

  3. Nicole Simon says:


    I think this is exactly where your blog is perfect for: Tell us more about that expectations of MS. Like for example "many years experience" or what those skills should be and way.

    Over time this will be a great ressource for reading and help others discover how they could improve – perhaps not a microsoft but somewhere else.

    For example, what is experience? How does you want to see it proven? What is marketing from your point of view? Why is this kind of marketing needed with this kind of experience needed for which kind of job? Which are alternatives? And so on.

    I always find that telling me what is not working helps me to discover ways to get it working. 🙂

  4. You are doing people the best service. Your honesty really can help them. If they truly wish to get into Marketing then your advice will help them. Best things for people to do when they want a change is to find the people that are already there and associate with them and learn from them.

  5. Heather,

    I think it’s great that you take the time to do this and have the courage to be forthright with these folks. Better that they spend their energy pursuing realistic prospects than to hold out for something that is not going to happen.


  6. Gary C says:


    If you really did "squash their dream job" I think they really did not want to fulfill their dream due to their own personal choice (obligation to pay the bills, content with their current jobs, or just afraid to move on that dream). As Steve Jobs said at the Stanford Commencement, "he was fired from Apple (the company he started)". He moved on and continued to be successful with Pixar. The founder of FedEx got a "C" on his business plan when he wrote it for an MBA graduate course. But the most interesting career move was the San Diego Chicken. He graduated from college and his parents pestered him to get a real job. He chose to follow his dream and not listen to his parents. He dressed up for every home game in a chicken outfit and paid for admission to the Padres baseball games. Eventually he was paid to entertain the audience between innings on the baseball field. Then Ted Turner sees what he likes and offers him a six digit income to go to Atlanta and do the same thing there.

    The bottom line: You will get opposition and rejection in life. Continue to follow your passion.


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